Effects of line separation and exploration on the visual and haptic detection of symmetry and repetition.

Lawson, R., Ajvani, A., & Cecchetto, S.

Detection of regularities (e.g., symmetry, repetition) can be used to investigate object and shape perception. Symmetry and nearby lines may both signal that one object is present, so moving lines apart may disrupt symmetry detection, while repetition may signal that multiple objects are present. Participants discriminated symmetrical/irregular and repeated/irregular pairs of lines. For vision, as predicted, increased line separation disrupted symmetry detection more than repetition detection. For haptics, symmetry and repetition detection were similarly disrupted by increased line separation; also, symmetry was easier to detect than repetition for one-handed exploration and for body midline-aligned stimuli, whereas symmetry was harder to detect than repetition with two-handed exploration of stimuli oriented across the body. These effects of exploration and stimulus orientation show the influence of modality-specific processing rather than properties of the external world on regularity detection. These processes may, in turn, provide insights into the nature of objectness in vision and in touch.

Experimental Psychology (2016), 63, 197-214.